North-East police commissioner candidate’s scathing assessment of the Early Release Scheme

A solicitor standing to be the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner has hit out at the “appalling” state of criminal justice in the North East.

Liberal Democrat candidate, Nigel Boddy, says the overpopulation of the UK’s prisons is having a dramatic effect on police officers’ ability to do their jobs effectively.

Mr Boddy said: “I want to make people aware of have how bad this situation is, and how badly the police have been let down.

“Having been a criminal defence lawyer in the North East for 25 years and having 50 years of experience of going to court to help people, I have seen this from all angles, and it’s never been this bad. The prisons are completely full – there’s often literally nowhere to lock anyone else up, and no-one, certainly not Labour, is talking about this, which is alarming.”

Elections for Durham Police and Crime Commissioner take place on Thursday, May 2.

“Both the Government and Labour are backing Whitehall’s Early Release Scheme, which is baffling to anyone with any understanding of the justice system, because the scheme is a complete shambles,” said Mr Boddy.

“Prisoners are being released into communities with no support or oversight, and as a result they’re reoffending almost immediately in staggering numbers.

“Often this is because they are being thrown out on the street with no choice but to sleep rough, and have no money for food. In one North East case, a man freed under the Early Release Scheme re-offended just 45 minutes later! Does that sound like a system that’s working?

“Probation officers tell me they have no emergency housing, no hostel accommodation – nothing. The government admit that we need a further 20,000 prison places if things remain as they are, but they’re creating just 2,000 more.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for liaising with other agencies and highlighting issues like this, but it’s clearly not happening currently. I would make it my mission to draw attention to matters like this – as I have done throughout my professional and political career – and use my experience to help our police, prisons, and probation service create a system that works.”